Monthly Archives: February 2017

Have your mass blast — and personalization, too

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It is the kind of conflict that ties marketers in knots. They know it’s important to connect with customers and prospects one on one. Yet sales is a numbers game, and it’s all too easy to think of the recipient as just a name on a list – one that you “nurture” through customized, well timed-email “drip campaigns,” and increase “touch points.”

Marketing jargon aside, how does one achieve the scale and efficiency of automation and digital communications – yet still find a way to treat the customer as individuals and show them that you care? Said another way, how to balance the super ego of good customer relations with the id or baser impulses of mass blasts?

We’ll never get back to the days when great service meant greeting customers by name as they walked into the corner store  Yet today’s tortured marketers can rest easier as there are a number of ways to strike a middle ground.  Think of it as mass customization, a manufacturing principle, applied to your sales process.

One way to do this is send your prospect a handwritten card. “Um, a card? Like, with real handwriting?” I can hear you asking this, and how to make it happen across your hopefully massive database. The super ego is realizing that it might actually be a good idea, while the id is already a couple of steps ahead, wondering how to send the work to India.

But there are ways to scale handwritten communications. Just like marketers in growing numbers are again waking up to the advantages of email marketing (after all you have just one inbox that you check often), they’re realizing the importance of the physical mailbox. Direct mail is coming back into vogue, with 70% of Americans saying that snail mail is more personal than the internet, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

Technology can let you have the “cake” of quantity (mass blasts) and eat it too (i.e. the quality of the manual approach of a handwritten note). You need a way to stand out.

Rising above the Digital Noise

In a world of digital distraction, noise and interruptions, a physical card or note can be the secret to breaking through and connecting with busy customers.  It can provide welcome relief from other things that demand attention. Personalizing the piece with handwriting and other elements creates a special connection between the sender and receiver.

While most physical and virtual messages are quickly sent to the junk mail pile, a real note with handwriting demands extra attention. But it can be hard to maintain these kinds of campaigns, and they cost money and time.  Luckily, there are tools that automate the process, such as Thankster.com.

It authentically simulates handwriting and can even replicate the sender’s writing. When combined with the latest marketing automation tools, they can let you stamp each note with your personality on a mass scale.  This combines the power and efficiency of marketing automation with a vehicle that grabs attention, delights recipients and boosts open rates, sales and referrals.

Users can create projects at the site, or integrate with a CRM.  With the latter, you can trigger a card mailing based on rules, such as passing purchasing or donation thresholds.  This allows you to carefully control how many cards are sent, to ensure that they continue to go out over time, and ultimately facilitates measurement of ROI.

For example, if you want to trigger a card to be created and sent out after a customer passes a purchasing milestone or speaks with your team, you can use an automated handwritten card solution, like Thankster, to weave personalized handwritten cards into your marketing campaigns, whether it’s to support nurturing campaigns or loyalty programs.

Other Ways to get Personal

Automating handwritten notes is not the only way to forge a stronger connection with the customer on a mass scale.  Here are two others.

SaleMove offers a dramatically improved online customer experience.  It takes you many steps beyond the the typical live chat and phone support.  Support channels are often uncoordinated and frustrating for the customer. SaleMove elegantly integrates IM, phone support, video chat and email so that the team’s left hand knows what its right hand is doing – and together they seemlessly solve customer problems.

Here’s another. In your efforts to get personal, you don’t want to stray into “creepy” territory. That is exactly what retargetting ads do.  They’re the ones that seem to stalk you, based on a website visit recorded in your browser cookie. Solutions like Listen Loop offer a much smarter approach.  They personalize Web ads based on rules and information about the user’s company.

There you have it – you can have mass communications, and your personalization too.  I hope you found these ideas helpful.  Would you like to share any additional thoughts or ideas?

About the authors: 

Paul Geller (CEO) is a serial entrepreneur with both online and offline success.  After completing his MBA at MIT (Sloan School), Paul ran a computerized analytical trading fund for Kidder Peabody & Co., Inc. and went on to start his own hedge fund (Centurion Capital Group). In addition, Paul was the CEO and founder of Delivery.com, selling a majority interest to a major financial services firm in 2008.  He founded and is currently running Thankster.com.

Based in New York City, Bob Geller is president of Fusion PR. He is a veteran of tech sales, marketing and PR and has developed best practices for working social media and content marketing into the PR mix. Bob has been covered in publications such as PR Week, Entrepreneur, MarketingProfs, PR News and Bulldog Reporter. and writes and speaks frequently on social media, content marketing and PR.

Getting your brand into the blossoming festival scene

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America’s festival scene is burgeoning with new events springing up every year. Part event saturation, part audience demand, gone are the days where the musicians alone could attract fans – now there is an expectation of art, gourmet food and social interaction and this has opened up the door for brands to shift away from the traditional sponsorship model.

For businesses in the growth phase, you have to get creative in how to grow your brand awareness, particularly in a country where it is said that a new company starts up at a rate of 11,000 per hour!

I’m going to hazard a guess that thousands of sponsorship or marketing dollars are not available to the majority of smaller businesses. That makes getting creative with your event marketing initiatives crucial, and building solid relationships even more so, especially if you hope to infiltrate large events that small businesses typically can’t get into. Cue your new festival strategy!

When you’re thinking festivals, you may be thinking of the big guns – the Coachella’s and SXSW’s of the festival world – where you’re most likely priced out by the big buck sponsors. But success in event marketing is not always about being at the biggest, most expensive events. Targeting new, early-phase events gives you a chance to get your foot in the door, and also to scale up as they do. To get your foot in that door, figure out who the organizers are and get introductions to foster relationships with them.

The strategy is simple, go after the smaller festivals – maybe 2,000-4,000 fans –with an audience that is passionate about the event, the community within it and the artists playing. These size events may be breaking even (sometimes not) and are typically in years 1-4 of their own growth phase but they have a loyal community. Be there on the ground floor as a brand sponsor and that community will most likely remain loyal to you. These organizers generally need to top off their event dollars and this is where you come in.

Think about your business offering and, rather than a standard sponsor model, take the initiative and offer festival partners a commission so you both win when you hit your targets. Speaking of targets, decide what they are and make sure you get buy-in from the festival organizers. If it’s in the form of online sales from a discount coupon created exclusively for the event, then spell it out and agree to targets. The higher the sales target, the greater the potential pay-out to the festival.

When it comes to providing promotional assistance, see if you can link in your respective social channels and website to help spread awareness for their events. As long as it’s a good brand fit, you’ll show your ‘cool side’ to your customers. In the process, you will help each other build social media fans via the cross promotion.

Don’t forget to focus on adding value to the people working the ‘hard yards’ to make the event possible. Volunteers are key to any successful event so find a way to reward them to deepen your connection to the heart-and-soul of the event.

Also, once the arrangement you strike with the festival organizers is in place, offer easy management of the processes. Festivals are extremely complex to organize so the lower key you can make everything, the more likely it is to run smoothly.

In a snapshot, if you’re looking to get your brand at a festival, I recommend:

  • Show the value of how your product or experience enhances the festival goers time at the event – think experiential or a value-add that is too hard to say no to. JUCY has campervans so we offered ‘nap stations’ at one event for weary partygoers to catch a recovery nap…it was a success!
  • Be clear upfront on the trade you are offering, including commission or kickbacks, as festival organizers are time starved and event management is a giant beast.
  • Network at the right events and be persistent – it might be the PR company, record label or just a buddy that gets you your ‘in’.
  • Provide a clear, simple contract or agreement and be self-sufficient once you or your team are at the event. The organizers will be putting out fires, don’t have yours be one of them.

If you haven’t been to a festival in a while, you might be thinking your product or service doesn’t suit the scene but the scale and opportunities are far greater than it ever has been before. Get creative, have fun and be tenacious, as it pays off! Good luck!

About the author:  Not every festival partnership has to have a bill in the triple digits. The festival scene is exploding with new events blossoming each year. Zoe Macfarlane from JUCY RV Rentals offers tips on how brands can avoid large sponsorship fees and get creative in their partnership offerings.

 

 

10 reasons why your company brand needs a podcast

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A whopping 57 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly, according to a 2016 report from Edison Research. That translated into 23% growth year over year for a communication medium that was all but written off when social media took the world by storm a decade ago.

Perhaps a little sobering, however, is the knowledge that there were 75,000 new podcasts launched in 2016, a massive 146% increase in the number of active podcast shows.

With this many new podcasts to compete against and a lot more hitting the market in 2017, you may be wondering if now is the right time for your company brand to launch a podcast.

Before the daunting numbers above scare you away, consider that most podcasts are for personal entertainment and education – think “Ted Radio Hour” or “Radiolab” – and not for company brands.

Also, more and more companies are viewing audio content as an effective marketing tool to reach their tribe of customers and prospects in hopes of deepening those relationships and creating a stronger sense of community.

Podcasts provide a direct connection to listeners, in part because people typically tune in during their personal time – at the gym, stuck in traffic or in their home. The consumption of podcasts is getting much easier with the podcast app on smartphones, in cars with the app in the dash, and with Alexa and Google Home.

Savvy brands are launching new podcasts at record rates and here are 10 reasons why your brand needs a podcast:

Become the Thought Leader in your industry

If the CEO or an executive within your company writes a book about your industry, they instantly become a perceived “industry expert”. A podcast separates your brand from the competition and gives your company an elevated level of respect as the go-to resource within your industry.

Engage with your clients

Interviewing your client’s CEO on a podcast creates incredible goodwill. By regularly featuring clients in your podcast you get to share their expertise with your audience while at the same time create a closer relationship with the client’s key staff. You may soon have clients calling you to be included in an interview!

Generate new business

Interviewing a thought leader at a prospect’s company changes the entire dynamic of the next sales call and also provides the team a great lead-in with sales emails.

            “Did you hear your CEO on our podcast last week?”

Expand your network of professionals in a growing media space

If you are personally responsible for developing your brand’s podcast, you will engage with other podcasters – you won’t be able to help it. The universe seems to be bringing podcasters together so embrace it and learn from others that are ahead of you in the podcast ecosystem. They’ve made mistakes that you can avoid and all you have to do is ask.

Increase web traffic

Your company podcast will drive interest in your business. When people are interested in your business, they go to your website. If you want to drive specific traffic to a particular product on your site, create a 15 second ad during an episode that says,

            “Thanks for listening to this episode today, to get $20 off of the product we were just discussing, go to…”

Create a unique page and track the traffic to monitor engagement with your audience. Unique promo codes by episode can also help track listeners that convert online.

Engage employees

Did someone at your company do something awesome? Announce it on the next episode and have them personally tell their story. As the rest of their coworkers are cheering them on, your customers are also listening about how well you treat your employees. A win, win.

Expand your social media reach

Your social media team is always hungry for relevant content to post to your company’s social channels. Industry trends and company blogs are great, but combining a social post with a direct link to a podcast episode expands your brand’s social footprint. Plus, if your content is applicable today and in the future, this will provide the social team with evergreen content to republish.

Cross promote written content

Discussing an article that is published on your company blog puts written content into an audio form. Conversely, creating a written transcript of a discussion around a blog post then creates another blog post about the original content.

One original blog post turns into a podcast discussion, which can turn into a concluding blog post. Content is king and you just tripled yours.

Reach your audience more places with audio content

iPhone, Alexa, Siri…they are always with you so unless your audience is asleep, they are reachable with audio content.

Launch quickly and inexpensively

In under 60 days your brand’s podcast can launch for less than $110. You do not need a sound booth, editing expertise and expensive equipment. Decide the format of the show: One host interviewing one person or two co-hosts discussing industry trends and mixing in guests. Listen to other company podcasts to see what format best suits your company vibe and move forward.

Conclusion

The audio industry has changed and the barrier to entry comes down to effort and hustle. To elevate your brand and drive more business in a relatively new format that is exploding in popularity, your next right decision could be to launch a podcast.

About Author:
Todd Nevins is the Founder of CLICKPlacement, a paid search marketing agency, and the Host of the Go Hunt Life podcast where he interviews people that pulled the ripcord on their normal, safe career path to pursue their passion and follow the path less traveled.

 

 

 

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